Tuesday, January 31, 2012

CATCHING JORDAN by Miranda Kenneally

I've been busy with revisions, and my girls had their first competition/convention this weekend (the teachers threw a lot of choreo at us, but didn't teach very much, and the comp ran until midnight).  Just wanted to let you know why I haven't been posting as regularly.  But today, I'm back with a good book and a new review J

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally is a book I heard about long before the release date.  This is both good and bad.  Good because I got to add it to my mental TBR pile long before most people knew about it (fun fact: Score was the book's original title).  Bad because I had to wait…and wait…and wait some more.  But it was worth it.  The book delivered on all counts: relatable characters, angsty romance and a fresh take on the whole girl-in-a-man's-sport premise.

Seventeen-year-old Jordan Woods wants to play college ball.  With a football legend as a father and a brother who plays for the University of Tennessee, getting into Bama should be a cakewalk.  There's just one problem: Jordan Woods is a girl.  No matter how talented she is--and Jordan is incredibly talented, one of the best high school QBs in the state of Tennessee--that's one obstacle she'll have to overcome over and over again if she wants to play in the NCAA.

Her team's behind her one hundred percent.  They're out to win a state championship, and Jordan is too--until Ty Green moves to town.  With his killer spiral and sexy grin, Ty throws Jordan completely off her game.  Is he there to take her spot?  What's up with all the flirting?  And why's her best friend and best wide receiver, Henry, acting so weird all of a sudden?

The mixing of YA sensibilities, sports action, and romance was so seamless I burned through the pages lightning fast.  My favorite parts were the ones with JJ, Carter, Henry and Jordan.  Her friendship with her teammates, the camaraderie there, never felt forced or fake.  I absolutely bought the fact that Jordan preferred hanging out with her boys--even with their cursing and hooking up and eating everything in sight--over hanging with girls who didn't know a thing about football.  The humor in those scenes was infectious.  Made me wish I had guy friends like that J  Plus, I learned more about Jordan's character and liked her more b/c of her interactions with the guys.

 Loved the bit with the father.  Football Dad not wanting his little girl to play in college b/c he's afraid she'll get hurt and Jordan taking that as he doesn't believe in her?  It was great to see both sides of that story, watching Dad and Jordan find their way toward understanding each other.  Heart wrenching, but definitely one of the best parts of the book imo.

The one issue I had was with the Jordan/Henry dynamic.

*****Spoiler*****  When Jordan finds out that Henry's been in love with her all this time, and then confronts Henry, offering to give their relationship a try, he turns her down.  That's where the book went a little off for me.  Unlike Anna and the French Kiss (where Etienne's had a longtime girlfriend and--more importantly--he's just found out his mom has cancer), I didn't understand what was holding Jordan and Henry apart.  They both admitted to wanting each other.  There was no huge chasm, both characters seemed to be on the same page…but Henry pushed her away…toward Ty???  *****End Spoiler*****

I liked Henry as the supportive best friend, and I really disliked it when he kind of abandoned her.  But they got it together in the end.  It was great to see Jordan find a place that wanted her for the player she was.  It was great seeing her get her guy.  Overall, the book was a really fun read, and I enjoyed it.  The side characters (especially JJ, Carter, and her brother Mike) were wonderful.  Jordan was focused and driven and inexperienced in love, and I liked watching her go for her goals.

Have any of you guys read the book?  I'd love to hear your thoughts :D

Happy reading, 

Ninja Girl

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Hi all!  Tune in Tuesday is a meme hosted over at GReads that showcases music, and since I happened to run across some fantastic songs recently, I thought I'd do a post.  This first one I heard on a movie soundtrack, and I was like "Who is that???"  Of course, I should've known it was The XX; they are awesome!  The song's called "Shelter."

Then I found this version (which I actually think I love a little bit more; like I said, The XX rocks, but I'm a big fan of sad songs lol.  Don't judge :p)  This cover of "Shelter" is by fifteen-year-old Birdy.

Have you heard any great songs recently?  Read any good books that made you wish they had soundtracks??  Hope you guys enjoy!

Ninja Girl

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

THE PECULIARS by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

Don't let the blurriness of the cover fool you.  I was lucky enough to get a galley of The Peculiars from NetGalley, and I have to say…this book really surprised me.  In a fantastic way.

First, I don't know if "Maureen Doyle McQuerry" is a penname or what, but I LOVE that it fits the actual book.  Quirky, a little fantastical, part romance novelist/part adventurer, and definitely out of the norm.  I've noticed that sometimes a great penname can set you up for what's to come, and this one definitely did that.

I'm not a big fan of reading books off of a screen (no e-readers here--I'm old school, love holding real books in my hands).  So, it takes a really great story to keep me coming back to my computer and straining my eyes to read off of either Kindle for PC or Adobe Digital Editions (I prefer the formatting of Adobe so much more, it's not even funny).

The Peculiars kept me coming back.

Eighteen-year-old Lena Mattacascar isn't your typical heroine.  No matter how hard she tries to hide them, Lena has the elongated hands and feet of a goblin.  The marks of a Peculiar.  Gloves and specially-made boots can only conceal so much.  In Lena's world, Peculiars--a lawless bunch with strange abnormalities and no souls--are sent to the wilds of Scree to work in the mines.  Intent on finding her father, who she believes will have all the answers as to whether or not she is indeed Peculiar, Lena sets out on an adventure.  On her journey to Scree, she encounters several odd characters: Jimson Quiggley, a young librarian who instead of shying away from Lena's hands calls her extraordinary; Thomas Saltre, a Marshal who will stop at nothing to find Lena's father; Mr. Beasley, an eccentric inventor with absolutely no eyebrows; and an extraordinary cat named Mrs. Mumbles, who may or may not save the day.

The book was unlike anything I've read.  The fact that Lena had such obvious physical deformities set her apart.  She had to deal with that, hide that part of herself, every day in a society deadest against Peculiars.  Her adventurous spirit, the steampunk/historical atmosphere drew me in.

Despite Lena's age, I'd categorize it as more of a children's adventure than a YA.  The reason being there was very little romance--although the little that was included was wonderful.  Instead of hot and heavy, it was subtle and heart-warming.  I was a big fan of Jimson Quiggley and his infectious enthusiasm J  Mumbles and Mr. Beasley were definite favorites, and though Lena made some mistakes, I cared about her.  I wanted her to accept herself, to find her courage, which I think she did in the end.

The Peculiars was an enjoyable read.  If you're looking for that rare mix of adventure, true historical facts mixed with steampunk fantasy, and a sprinkling of romance on the side, give McQuerry's book a go.

Happy reading,

Ninja Girl

Friday, January 13, 2012

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

Another Anna I loved!  Like I said in previous posts, Anna Dressed in Blood was my favorite read of 2011 (It was beyond phenomenal!).  Now, Anna and the French Kiss has rocked my world, so I'm just thinking MC's named Anna are probably a sign of a great book J.

Why'd I wait so long to read this one???  I have no idea.  Great title to draw you in, great cover art…honestly, it was probably b/c it's set in France.  Usually, I find stories set in the real world but outside the U.S. give too much description.  I don't love reading long, sweeping paragraphs about landscapes/setting; they usually take me out of the story instead of putting me in it.

I'm happy to say that this book gave just the right amount of detail.  I think part of this is b/c we see/learn everything with Anna, who's new to the country as well.  Anna is the heart and soul of this book, and I was a fan of hers from the beginning.  Her crap dad just sent her to bordering school for her senior year where she has no friends and doesn't speak the language.  But when she meets Etienne St. Clair, the ridiculously handsome French/British American with the incredible hair, things start looking up.  Too bad he has a girlfriend.  And Anna's new best girl friend has a huge crush on him.  And Anna may or may not have left her heart in Atlanta.  With all these obstacles, will Anna and Etienne ever get their happily ever after?

It's YA romance, people--of course, they do!

But the reason to read this book is to see how they finally get together.  If you haven't read Anna, get ready to meet your new book boyfriend.  Etienne: great sense of humor, fun-loving, hint-dropping, drop-dead gorgeous heartthrob with to-die-for hair (note: Anna has a thing about great hair)…and he's short.  This is mentioned several times throughout the novel.  Think a shortie can't be as attractive as the tall-ies?  Get ready to be proven wrong ladies b/c Etienne was one of the best male love interests I've come across.

Anna was hilarious, and her friendship with Etienne rang true.  Their "near misses" rang true as well.  They'll make you want to rip your hair out sometimes, but when they finally do get together, it seems all the more satisfying.  Their first kiss is electric.  If nothing else (the humor, the great friendships, the great characters), read the book for that kiss.  With all the build up, it's guaranteed to make you melt.  The scenes with Anna and Etienne were my favorites.  It's like Perkins took everything you'd want to find in a YA romance and packed it all into this book.  The longing, the almost-having, the heartbreak, and the long-awaited HEA.

This one's a definite keeper.  I'd recommend Anna and the French Kiss to anyone who loves great romance.  Honestly, though it was one of the first books I've read in 2012, it'll be hard to top this read J

Happy Friday all and happy reading,

Ninja Girl

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

HALF-BLOOD by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Half-Blood has been on my radar for a while now.  A ton of book bloggers really loved this book, and the cover kept popping up here, there, and everywhere.  A few other things kept popping up, too.  Here's what I mean:

Now tell me, if you kept seeing those buttons, wouldn't you eventually click on one of them??  Well, I did (couldn't help myself).  Look at that one of Seth with the blue flames...  After way too much staring, I just had to know what the pics were from.

Anyway, I finally read the book over the holidays, and I'm happy to say it lives up to the hype.  Some people have knocked it for being exactly like the Vampire Academy series, but I didn't mind the similarities.  I think that's just b/c I enjoy a good story *shrugs*  Cliché doesn't bother me as long as it's done well, so...I just sat back and let Armentrout do her thing.  And I enjoyed it.  Immensely J.

Here's what you need to know first: Hematoi = children of Gods + Mortals

                                                     Pure-bloods = children of Hematoi + Hematoi

                                                     Half-bloods = children of Hematoi + Mortals

                                                     Half-blood + Pure-blood = Huge No-No!!!

Got it?  (Don't worry it took me a second, too J)

The MC is seventeen-year-old Alex, a half-blood who just lost her mother in a daimon attack.  She's taken back to The Covenant where she'll either become a Sentinel (aka a daimon hunter) or a mindless servant to the pure-bloods.  With her so behind in her training, Alex gets assigned a mentor to bring her up to speed: The very hot, very off-limits Sentinel Aiden.  He's a pure-blood after all and relationships between pures and halfs are explicitly forbidden.  Good thing Alex has never been a fan of rules.

There's also an oracle, one uber-powerful/hot Apollyon named Seth, and enough mystery, action and romantic tension to keep the reader flipping through the pages to get to the end.  (If you wanna know what the Apollyon is, I suggest reading the book ;D)  I would recommend it to people who want an entertaining read very much in the vein of the Vampire Academy series and Isle of Night by Veronica Wolff.  Personally, I think Half-blood is a nice addition to the genre.  I connected with the characters (especially Alex, loved her recklessness/courage), loved the fight scenes.  I was pretty impressed with the ending.  Can't wait to read the next book and find out more about Seth J

Hope everyone had an excellent New Year's, 

Ninja Girl